The 6th Annual Artivist Film Festival opened this week in Hollywood with a mission to”strengthen the voice of advocate artists … while raising public awareness for social global causes.” It brings together films and audiences to raise awareness humanity, animals and the environment through activism.
This year, the festival kicked off with the powerful and poignant film, La Mission, starring Benjamin Bratt and Jeremy Ray Valdez, directed and written by Peter Bratt. The film takes us to the heart of the Mission District in San Francisco as we follow the story of Che, his son Jesse, the new neighbor next door and the “Mission Boyz”, through a whirlwind of social issues.
The film was appropriately precluded with a performance of traditional Aztec dancing that blessed the space for the screening. As a roar of applause thanked the dancers and welcomed the movie, the audience was brought into the world of La Mission, “a story of redemption imbued with the curative power of Aztec tradition.”
“Feared, yet respected, as the baddest Chicano on the block, Che (Benjamin Bratt), a reformed inmate and recovering alcoholic, resorts to violence and intimidation to get what he wants. A bus driver by day, Che lives for his beloved son, Jesse, his lifelong friends, and his passion for lowrider cars. Che and the “Mission Boyz” salvage junked cars, transforming them into classics. Che’s macho world is crushed when he discovers that Jesse’s been living a secret Gay life that he could never accept. Lena, Che’s attractive neighbor and a force to be reckoned with, is a woman with a few secrets of her own. Mutual attraction percolates as Lena challenges Che to reconcile the life he thought he had.”
“I think that you find social messaging in all sorts of media whether its conscious or unconscious,” stated directed Peter Bratt in the Q & A session that took place after the film. Some members of the audience were moved by the risks the filmmakers took, while others were thankful to see issues of homosexuality and violence in a minority community conveyed. Benjamin Bratt clearly highlighted, “Artists have historically have always been on the point of change in society, so if you have the opportunity to make a film, why not make it positive.”
Also, thanks to Reel Green Media, La Mission was an eco-friendly set, from waste diversion to no water bottles and of course, green product placement. If you look carefully in the film, the Ecorazzi logo appears in the interior shot of Che’s Muni bus — but if you missed it, Ecorazzi also has a plug in the credits!
The Artivist Film Festival takes place between December 1-5 at the Egyptian Theatre in Hollywood and will screen more than 40 short and feature films from around the globe. For more information, please visit the official site here.